The Nightshade Nightclub sure knows how to start the New Year with a bang after an explosion kills 236 people in an attack from an unknown source. It’s location; in the middle of a city, above an abandoned weapons facility several stories underground.
The Netflix Original indie sci-fi series, Residue, written by John Harrison (Dinosaur, 2000) and directed by Alex Garcia Lopez (Daredevil, Misfits) follows the city’s residents and how they are impacted by the explosion and following quarantine zone, with lots of questions, but few answers.
As its residents evacuate the city, Jennifer Preston (Natalia Tena, Game of Thrones, Harry Potter), a photographer, continues to take photos of the city in order to capture the people who have stayed behind, how they’ve changed and how isolated they’ve become. She becomes obsessed with how something is amiss, especially after one of her subjects unexpectedly snaps, killing his family and himself.
But was it really him? “Look at him,” Jen says looking at the photograph of her subject. “There’s something going on beneath these expressions. Something’s happening to us. Something… Something more.”
Diving into the underground scene of the city, she attends a nightclub where she experiences something straight out of a horror film. Has the isolation of a quarantine driven them crazy, or are the dark figures Jen finds in her photographs a warning? And what about those strange black marks on the walls?
The deeper she digs, the darker the show becomes, making it impossible to ignore how Residue is beautifully shot, and craftily creepy. There’s something uncomfortable about a broken mannequin in an abandoned mall, plastic wraps covering entire city blocks, and being alone in large spaces.
But amongst the bleak colouring and terrific use of lighting, Residue also targets the audible experience. The soundtrack and sound effects are perfectly balanced between creating an authentic experience and for dramatic effect, without going overboard. This series is worth watching for the soundscape alone.
The major drawback of Residue, however, is that it is written as a miniseries. Everything feels rushed. We have no time to connect emotionally with our characters, apart from their minimal backstories, before they begin isolating themselves to find answers. The scenes of each resident’s death is a beautiful tragic dance between our psyche and something even more mysterious.
If you’re someone who needs conclusive answers, look elsewhere, as you will be left hanging. A second season consisting of 10 episodes was teased but nothing has appeared to have come of it. But perhaps that’s the beauty of this series. When a disaster strikes and the government tries to fix or cover it up, despite not knowing how or what they’re dealing with, perhaps it’s because there is no cure? After all, aren’t these types of television shows just visualisations of our own fears?
31 March 2015
2 hrs 10 mins